The World Bank Vice-President for Africa, Dr Hafiz Ghanem, has advised Ghana to work towards achieving a 100 per cent Internet access.
He said that was a necessary vision and dream for the country because the digitisation of the Ghanaian economy was extremely important, noting that across Africa, access to the Internet was only 21 per cent.
Dr Ghanem, who gave the advice during a meeting with the Vice-President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, at the Jubilee House last Monday, expressed the readiness of the World Bank to support Ghana’s digitisation drive.
“We have been working with the African Union (AU) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa on developing a strategy for the digital transformation of the continent,” he said.
Among the strategies, Dr Ghanem said, were investment in infrastructure, modernisation of the regulatory and competition framework to bring down cost and build capacities which, he said, were to make Africa the startup continent.
He said “using technology in education and health care is what is happening all over the world and so it is a big area we would like to support.”
Dr Ghanem commended the government for the introduction of free Senior High School, saying “you have done a lot on the macroeconomic side but we think that your decision to provide free SHS is an important one.
it is something we would like to support because we have projects in the education sector and we would like to do even more and see how we can ensure access to quality education across Africa.
He said the economy was also doing very well, with a growth rate around six per cent and that it was important that Ghana’s development continued and even accelerated.
Dr Ghanem said the progress being made was important for the country and the people just as much as it was for the rest of Africa because of the spillover and demonstration effects to show that a country that was reforming and opening up its economy was achieving good results.
“We at the World Bank are committed to supporting you and we will do our best to increase the size of our support and to also improve its quality and respond to your needs and priorities he added.”
Dr Bawumia in response outlined the various programmes and policies the government had been pursuing since assuming office and said, “President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has set a vision for the country to help to grow this economy to make it a modern prosperous economy such that Ghana could move beyond aid.
“We have had two consecutive years of a primary budget surplus which has been the first in a very long time that Ghana has had that.
The trade side is a positive balance current account and is also improving and so on the macro economy side, we have had very good performance,” he said.
However, Dr Bawumia said the government wanted to make sure that the growth was inclusive.
Therefore, he said the country was making sure “we have the free SHS which is going to be very important for the country 10 to 15 years from now, the enrolment rates are increasing across and last year, we had an increase of about 36 per cent in enrolment in SHS, 181, 000 pupils who would otherwise not have had access to SHS education are getting that access to SHS.”
Touching on digitisation, which he was so passionate about, Dr Bawumia said the government was on a major programme of digitisation because it believed that digitisation in the context of formalisation of the economy had many positives.
He, however, highlighted some of the challenges confronting the country, particularly in the energy sector.
“We have to look at how we transition from the liquid fuels to more gas to bring down the prices so it is an area that the World Bank has a lot of expertise and we could collaborate going forward, to see how to tackle some of these issues,” he said.